Departamento de Letras e Artes – CEDUC
Docente: Valécio Irineu
Componente Curricular: Literatura II
Discente: Ádria Ramos Lustosa
Theatrical metalanguage in Hamlet
The Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, is a well-known play around the world. It is a famous tragedy of the American literature whichis also studied and read by many academic specialists and scholars. Hamlet can be analyzed, interpreted and discussed in many perspectives, because a lot of discussions can be rise with it, such as: religions values, the madness, the death, the life value, incest, etc. Among them, one which called my attention was about the theatrical metalanguage used at the play. Therefore, I will try, in thisbrief rehearsal, to propose a small discussion about the use of this resource in the Hamlet’s play. Trying to understand what are the author’s intentions using it.
Firstly, it is important to say that, before Hamlet, the theatrical metalanguage was already used by Thomas Kid in The Spanish Tragedy (1558-94). It was a very popular play which its story concerns in the murder of Horatio, and likeHamlet after him, Kyd makes use of a play about a murder to effect his revengeful purpose. So, according to Burgess (1998, p. 64), “he can be regard as the father of the popular ‘revenge tragedy’ of which Hamlet is the most notable example”. Certainly, Shakespeare was inspired by Kyd’s play when he decided to use this effect in Hamlet, but the question is: What is the purpose of these authorsusing this resource? Because, everything inside a play has a mean, nothing was made by chance, and if we analyze these small details, we can find new meanings and other critical interpretations about a play. This is what we will try to do from now on.
After reading Hamlet’s play, the first logical conclusion that I made about the use of a ‘play inside other play' in this story, it was the mostobvious conclusion: Hamlet planned the performance of this play, because he wanted that his uncle watch it to invoke his memory about Hamlet’s father murder. Hamlet wanted to be sure about his father's murderer, and through the performance of it, he could see his uncle's reaction, if he was the real murder or not. Because as well as he affirmed:
HAMLET: (…) This play is theimage of a murder done in Vienna. Gonzago is the Duke’s name, his wife Baptista. You shall see anon. ‘Tis a knavish piece of work, but what o’ that? Your majesty, and we that have free souls, it touches us not. Let the galled jade winch, our withers are unwrung. (SHAKESPEARE, p. 125)
Then, this play was about a murder. It presents a sleeping king being murdered by a man who steals both hiscrown and queen. It was a mirror-image of what Claudius did to his brother. Futhermore, before the player King die, he talked with his wife about marriage. The dialogue among them was full of irony and ambiguities. It was a good way to provoke the king Claudius’ memory. Because, for example, when the King says:
PLAYER KING: I do believe you think what now you speak. Butwhat we do determine oft we break
Purpose is but the slave to memory,
Of violent birth but poor validity,
Which now like fruit unripe sticks on the tree,
But fall unshaken when they mellow be.
But orderly to end where I begun,Our wills and fates do so contrary run
That our devices still are overthrown;
Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own.
So think thou wilt no second husband wed,
But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead (SHAKESPEARE, p. 121)
The king is...